Sunday, September 16, 2007

Do Your Own Work, Mr. Rogers

As a book group veteran, Friend of the (Brighton) Library and the daughter of a librarian, I was thrilled to hear about the Cromaine Library's Saturday kickoff of "The Big Read." With the support of an National Ednowment for the Arts (NEA) grant, the library offered free copies of Ray Bradbury's Farenheit 451 as part of its community read. The library has also organized a series of programs and speakers focused on the book.

This is a great honor for the Cromaine Library, which was one of a limited number of community libraries to receive the NEA grant. It's a terrific boost for literature in our community. It's also a timely book:
Fahrenheit 451 takes place in an unspecified future time in a hedonistic and rabidly anti-intellectual America that has completely abandoned self-control and bans the possession of books. People are now only entertained by in-ear radio and an interactive form of television. The protagonist, Guy Montag, is a fireman, certain that his job—burning books, and the houses that hold them, and persecuting those who own them—is the right thing to do. (from Wikipedia)

Making the day even more interesting was one of the attendees: Mike Rogers. Rogers has been mighty scarce in these parts lately, but he did manage to provide a nugget o' literary wisdom for a local reporter :
U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Brighton, stopped by and said programs such as "The Big Read" are important because less than half of adults now read literature, according to an NEA report.

That trend can transfer over to children, he added.

"If they don't see the adults around them reading, you can imagine what it could do," Rogers said.

Now, this is absolutely true. It's good that Rogers is concerned about children being encouraged to read. It would be even nicer if his concern for children extended to providing them with basic health care, but since he voted against last month's bill to reauthorize and expand the State Children's Health Insurance program (S-CHIP) I guess he's not too worried about it.

And when exactly did Rogers become a supporter of the arts? Americans for the Arts gave him ratings of just 37% in 2006 and 38% in 2004. Americans for the Arts isn't some loony group that considers elephant dung an art supply; they're a well-established organization that focuses on local arts and developing partnerships with business leaders and educators.

To put it mildly, it's annoying to see Mr. Rogers use one of his (increasingly rare) appearances at a local event to give the impression that he's concerned with child welfare, education and arts funding. if a student did something similar, it would very likely be described as plagiary.
Merriam-Webster defines plagiarize as a transitive verb, meaning "to steal and pass off (the ideas or words of another) as one's own : use (another's production) without crediting the source."

Mr. Rogers should do his own work.

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